Entries in Blood Transfusions (3)


CDC: Tick-Borne Babesiosis a Major Blood Transfusion Threat

Keith Brofsky/Digital Vision/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- While bites from deer ticks are usually to blame for cases of babesiosis -- a potentially fatal parasitic illness that mimics malaria -- the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified at least 159 cases of the disease transmitted through blood transfusions.

In new research published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, researchers identified transmission-associated cases of babesiosis between 1979 and 2009.  More than 75 percent of the cases occurred during 2000 and 2009, and while 87 percent of cases were found in the seven states where babesiosis is most common, there were also cases in 15 other states.

“The risk for transfusion-associated Babesia [the parasite that causes the disease] infection may be increasing,” the authors wrote.  “Cases have occurred year-round and have been seen in states where Babesia species are not endemic.”

While most people infected with babesiosis have no symptoms, others may experience fatigue, anemia, jaundice and other symptoms.  It can sometimes be fatal, especially in the elderly and those with weakened immune systems.

Babesiosis is the most common disease transmitted through blood transfusions.

A history of babesiosis will exclude someone from donating blood, but signs of infection may not show up right away so a person may not know he or she is ill.  So far, the Food and Drug Administration has not approved any screening test for the presence of Babesia.

The researchers believe the transfusion-associated cases uncovered during their research are only a fraction of the number that may actually have occurred.

“The extent to which cases were not detected, investigated, or reported (to the CDC, to other public health authorities, or in publications) is unknown,” the authors wrote.  “Donor-screening strategies that mitigate the risk for transfusion transmission are needed.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Drug to Limit Menstrual Bleeding Could Save Lives

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(LONDON) – Researchers say a drug used to treat heavy menstrual periods could help save lives, reports Science Daily.

Researchers at Cochrane University believe that the drug, Tranexamic acid (TXA), could help patients that have bleeding after serious injuries from accidents or combat.

TXA, which works by reducing clot breakdowns, has been used previously during surgeries to reduce the need to perform blood transfusions, but is now thought to be of use in emergency situations.

"TXA reduces the risk of a patient bleeding to death following an injury and appears to have few side effects," said lead researcher Ian Roberts of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. “It could save lives in both civilian and military settings."

Patient trials have determined that death by excessive bleeding could be reduced by about 10 percent with the use of the drug, which could mean 70,000 saved lives every year. 
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Blood Doping for Clinical Trial Eligibility?

Photo Caption - Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Ethical and safety concerns have been raised by a Canadian group over cancer patients that have received blood transfusions for the sole purpose of meeting eligibility requirements.

Three such instances were reported in advanced cancer patients over a one-year period by Dr. Jeannie L. Callum and colleagues at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center in Toronto, reports MedPage Today.

"We caution against this practice, given the risks of transfusion," they wrote in a letter to the editor that appeared in the Oct. 21 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

All three cases they reported involved patients trying to get into trials of novel chemotherapy agents by taking transfusions.

In one case, a physician of a patient ordered transfusion of a unit of red cells to raise her hemoglobin level from 8.3 g/dL to the required 9.0 g/dL for trial enrollment. These cases could have been handled differently, said Callum's group.

Clinicians should try to correct the underlying laboratory value through other treatments first, such as treating anemia, they urged.  Other options may include looking for trials at other institutions for patients who don't meet eligibility criteria.

"Patient safety must trump all decisions for such patients," the group said.  "There should be few situations, if any, in which a patient receives a transfusion solely for the purpose of temporarily altering a laboratory value to gain admittance to a clinical trial."

The group added that such ethical dilemmas could be avoided if researchers and institutional review boards were aware of laboratory values that could be manipulated by transfusions.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio